Saudi Arabia lifts four-year ban on US beef imports

Cow Image copyright Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has lifted a four-year ban on US beef imports, that followed a scare over mad cow disease.

Under a new agreement, US exporters will initially be able to sell beef from cattle under 30-months of age.

Prior to the ban the US exported $31m (£23.4m) of beef and beef products to Saudi Arabia.

The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia said the deal would "ensure food security and a healthy agricultural sector for both of our countries".

Ambassador Joseph Westphal said the countries had agreed to meet common high food safety standards.

The US Department of Agriculture is developing a system for certifying US beef meets Saudi requirements.

Disease outbreak

Saudi Arabia imposed the ban in 2011 after a case of mad cow disease was discovered.

Concerns about mad cow disease, which has the official name of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, emerged in the 1990s.

In the UK, at the height of the epidemic, in 1992/1993, there were about 3,500 actual or suspected cases every month.

The brain-infecting disease can be transferred to humans who eat beef products from infected cattle.

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